An undercover investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches has found that the levels of cruise ship pollution are worse than in the world’s most populated cities.
The undercover investigation took place on one of P&O’s ships and was focused on the levels of “fine particles” found in the air and all around the ship.
By using a P-Trak ultra fine particle counter, the investigators were able to measure the air quality on-board P&O’s Oceana. The Oceana can carry over 2,000 passengers and is one of P&O’s most popular ships.
The air was tested right next to the ship’s funnel and downwind of the funnel. The results downwind were 84,000 ultra-fine particulates per cubic centimeter. However, the results directly next to the funnel were much higher. Investigators report the number jumped to 144,000 with a peak of 266,000 ultra-fine particles per cubic centimeter.
The Dispatches investigators reported that those numbers are more than double the average of London’s Piccadily Circus, which was recorded at 38,400 ultra-fine particulates per cubic centimeter.
Dispatches’ Dr. Matthew Loxham said, “It is clear from those results that there are certain areas of the ship that are affected by quite high levels of particulate matter. These are levels that you would expect to see in the most populated cities in the world like Shanghai, Delhi, and so on.”
Dr. Loxham also said the findings suggested the majority of the particulate matter was coming directly from Oceana’s funnel.
He also said, “Short term exposure can cause increasing respiratory symptoms. People who are asthmatic for example, that might give them a wheeze. Similarly for people with cardiovascular disease. Now that is not to say that these levels of particulates on this ship are going to do that, but there is much evidence out there to suggest that increase levels of particulates can cause these symptoms.”
P&O Cruises made a statement saying, “Since 2005 we have reduced our fuel consumption by 28 percent, with the accompanying reduction in air emissions.”
The line also added that the Oceana is already scheduled to be fitted with “exhaust gas cleaning systems, which have been installed on 60 ships across its brands. This action significantly improves the quality of air emissions. Soot and particulate matter reductions in excess of 80 percent have been achieved.”
P&O stated, “The health, safety and welfare of guests and crew across all our ships is our absolute highest priority…. We recognize that there is a public interest… related to particulate matter and related health issues.”